Sunday, April 9, 2017

Passover: Choose Your Battles, and Kitniyot isn't Mine

I enjoy my usual coffee, made in a Passover percolator, served in a Passover mug on my specially covered counter.
For those not living a Torah Jewish aka Orthodox life, there are innumerable issues that make no sense at all. And even for those who do, once you compare the different customs, especially concerning Passover foods -permitted and forbidden- confusion reigns supreme.

Until about a century or so ago, there wasn't all that much "mixing" between the Jewish communities aka eidot, so for example, the most Torah observant and knowledgeable Sephardic Jews of Tunisia and Morocco had no idea that their traditional Passover foods couldn't be eaten by an Ashkenazi Jew in Russia or Germany. And the Ashkeniz Jew would find it incredible that his Sephardic brethren had never eaten or even heard of Gefilte Fish or kneidlach.

But today, whether in Brooklyn, London or Jerusalem you will find many families of mixed Jewish ethnic backgrounds struggling at times to create menus and traditions that halachically (according to Jewish Law) suit all members of the family around the Seder table. My family is one of them.

I'm always praising this mix and sincerely consider it a sign that the Moshiach and Redemption are close. The blurring of these diaspora identities certainly are required prerequisites for the true Jewish Messianic Time and the building of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

My husband and I are strictly Ashkenaz and don't eat kitniyot*, legumes, whether dried, fresh or just derivatives. We've survived so many Passover Holidays on this restricted "diet" that it seems silly/unnecessary to accept/adopt one of those well-publicized general rabbinic statements that the "kitniyot restrictions" are no longer valid.

In principle I do not follow in any way public rabbinic announcements by rabbis I don't know and didn't ask. Actually, I consider it highly problematic for rabbis to make "grand announcements" to the general public. When have had a question we ask our local rabbi who knows us, and we know him.

I must say that our Passover observance has changed in the last decade plus, especially since our daughter married a Jew whose family made aliyah from Tunisia. It started when they would come to us, and we'd allow them rice on our Passover table. My daughter would make it in our pots, because rice isn't chametz, and it's perfectly permitted for them. And in recent years they host the big family seder. They serve both kitniyot and non-kitniyot foods. Everyone eats what they consider permitted on Passover. And we enjoy being together which is most important.

There are so many families like ours, nowadays, that these old ethnic divisions/differences won't last much longer Gd willing. Let them die a natural death. Don't rush it, please. It's better all around for the unity of the Jewish People to go slowly, so a Passover menu will happily include Gefilte Fish and hummus eaten with shmura soft matzot. That will be the type of meal celebrating the Chanukat Habayit of the Third Temple, Gd willing.

*Here are a few sites which will explain what this means:


Yakov Butterfield said...

What is really nice is the clearly marked labels on packages that do not contain Kitniyot. This is the first year that I have been in Jerusalem that shopping was actually fun. Now for the DIET afterwards.

Batya said...

Yes, there has been a great improvement, B"H. It is much easier than it used to be.

Mr. Cohen said...

I remember reading this: The Arizal taught that mashiach is brought nearer when Sephardim and Ashkenazim marry each other; but unfortunately, I do not [yet] have a written source to prove this.

Since I just mentioned mashiach, you might be interested in reading this:

Rambam Rejected Childless Mashiach:

Shiloh said...

Actually what will take place Mr. Cohen, irrelevant completely to the opinion of the Rambam, is that God will identify His choice. Then its up to the people. None of the 44 previous failed Jewish messiah's were identified by God, but by opinion of men. This is why we have had failure, as those are not of God choice but that of man. I know we cannot see the forest for the tree's.